ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Sarah Bertola on Music, Love and Dancing Through Life’s Pain
“Music is one way to celebrate the good parts of life”
– Sarah Bertola
The instant she entered the studio, I knew Sarah Bertola’s podcast would be fun and nearly effortless —“nearly” because I went into the interview knowing we’d discuss at some point the heavy topic of infant loss. I spent the days leading up to Sarah’s podcast binge-watching her YouTube channel and immersing myself in her soulful music, which, by the way, she writes almost exclusively herself.
Two of her songs were written about infant loss. “Until Heaven” is Bertola’s most popular song to date. It plays on local radio and has touched hundreds of hearts inflicted with the agony of losing a child. “You Are the Song” was written for Bertola’s daughter, Alice, who passed away at just five months. You get a glimpse of Bertola’s anguish in her music video of the same name.
Though she’s seen her share of heartache, Bertola radiates with a bright smile and a desire to lighten others’ burdens with her music. Her song “Step to the Left” was originally written without lyrics by renowned musician Melanie Shore, a close friend of Bertola’s. It’s one of the singer’s favorite songs on the EP.
Of this song, she said: “Mel has been through a lot of tough things in her life as well, and so I thought it would be the perfect creation for the two of us to work on together, to make it about…adjusting to hard things in life and making your way through them. I wanted to create an image of not just like pushing through, but also kind-of like dancing through. You can still find joy in hard times. I wanted to create something that you can relate to no matter what you’ve been through.”
Both Shore and Bertola have experienced loss. “Those are some pretty heavy topics…and they seep into everything that we do, and I think it’s appropriate to…feel that in a lot of different ways. And I wanted to create something where it’s light-hearted and it’s not too heavy. But if you have experienced that type of deep grief, I feel like you’ll catch on to that.”
Bertola’s message of positivity and her effort to lighten her listeners’ burdens with music doesn’t stop with just one song. With a genuine smile, she told me: “One of my main goals with my music is to just remind people that they can be happy, even with hard things. Life is so hard, and like, really crazy stuff happens to people, and something I’m really passionate about is creating a happy life for yourself around those things, cause you can’t avoid them…they happen.
“Music is one way to celebrate the good parts of life… and also create a common space for everybody. Everybody’s safe here. Music kind-of transcends different things and can bring people together.”
Bertola’s song titled “Everybody’s Hurting” is an upbeat reminder that every person is dealing with something that can’t be seen. Through inspired lyrics and a beat you want to dance to, Bertola encourages listeners to spread love and kindness wherever we go. In her own words, “It’s meant to be an anthem of, like, we’re all in this together. Be patient with people. Be loving. Be kind.”
And that’s ultimately Sarah Bertola’s message as an artist. When I asked her to share what she hopes fans will take away from her music, she said, “I just want people to know that life is good. And sometimes it’s, like, so bad, but…there are so many good things. There’s so much strength in connecting with people.”
As a talented singer, Bertola is able to slide between genres, taking a bit of each of her favorites to create a sound all her own. Her first album Transplanted was almost completely jazz. A few of her favorite jazz musicians include Ella Fitzgerald, Diana Kroll, and Bill Evans. When her song “Until Heaven” debuted, many fans thought she’d converted to country. While she loves both jazz and country, she doesn’t box herself into either genre, allowing herself the freedom to dance over the lines and even blur them a bit as she goes.
Her newest songs have been classified as jazzy-pop, pop-country, soul-pop, and just about every other variation of those words. You’ll have to decide for yourself what genre she’s currently performing. But don’t get too comfortable, she’ll likely be shaking things up again in the future.
Sarah hopes to take her newest songs on tour, though she doesn’t have any concrete dates or venues yet. She will perform live at The Rise in Orem, Utah on Friday, January 24th, and in Bountiful on Saturday, January 25th. I highly encourage all to attend. Her music is for everyone. And what better way to spend your weekend than having an awesome time at a show that supports not only local music, but an incredible individual with so much beauty in her heart?
Check out Sarah’s promo video on theriseutah.com and feel free to binge-watch her videos on her YouTube channel. You’ll find it under her name, Sarah Bertola.